It's been awhile since I've updated, and a lot has happened!
First things first, I left my training site on August 15 to head into the city for the end of training conference days. That Monday was an eventful day! We got the results of our language test back in the morning (I passed!), then were on pins and needles until the afternoon when site announcements were scheduled.
After a few sessions on community development and staying healthy that were really hard to pay attention to, all sixty-something of us walked through the city to the giant map in the park where site announcements were set to occur. We all stood around, nervous and excited, as each person was called one-by-one and told where they were going to be living and working for the next two years.
I was called in the middle, and led onto the map to stand in Uvurkhangai, an aimag (province) that is southwest of Ulaanbaatar. It is not in the Gobi, but it does border the Gobi, so camels aren't too far away even if none live in my town! Once I knew my aimag, I was given a packet with all the information about my town, job, and housing.
I am living in a ger! In fact, I am typing this blog post in my ger right now. :)
As for the rest of the information (yes, I flipped right to the housing section to see if "ger" was checked off before I read anything else!), my town is fairly small. The population is around 6,500 people and 30,000 yaks. I am the first Peace Corps Volunteer to be assigned here, and as far as I can tell, the only foreigner in town. As for the work information, I'll save that for another post about the first few days of school.
Back to site announcements: After I had skimmed the information in my packet, I started looking around to see where other people were placed. None of my training sitemates are in my aimag; in fact, there is a Volunteer from my training site in each of the farthest western, eastern, and southern aimags. Almost everyone was happy with their assignment and excited. And we all went out to celebrate, along with some current Volunteers who came into the city to welcome us to their aimags, at a dance club that night. The current Volunteers from Uvurkhangai even brought us candy!
|Our Dance Costumes|
The rest of the week went by really fast, with lots of sessions and meetings, including meeting our new supervisors (mine is very nice). In between all of this, there were four of us from my training site rehearsing our traditional Mongolian dance, set to be performed on Friday.
Friday morning, August 19, was Swearing In. We all got dressed up in our dels (traditional Mongolian clothes) that our host families had made us, took an oath, and walked across the stage to receive certificates. It was a little like a graduation ceremony, complete with slideshow! And we all had our pictures taken with the ambassador.
|Me and My New Waterfall|
Some trainees gave speeches in Mongolian, and then it was time for performances! There were several dances and songs performed by representatives from all of the training sites. I wore neon orange pants and remembered all the moves, and the audience clapped and cheered, so I'll call our performance a success!
After the ceremony, there was a reception with lots of tasty food, and then it was time to leave for site. Many tearful goodbyes later, I piled my suitcases, tumpen, and water filter into the back of my supervisor's jeep for our roadtrip to my new home.
Which is also the home of a waterfall; see the photographic evidence! I'm definitely one of the most beautiful parts of the country.